Why is it that men continue to allow women to mother them? Why is it that men do not seem to be able to move beyond their childhood? Why is it that so many men refuse to take on the level of maturity needed to let go of this need?
This is a unique and powerful book. It is a record of a series of conversations with Christopher Howard on masculinity, sex, addiction and relationships. In them both Chris and myself opened ourselves up in a very personal and revealing way. We held nothing back and explored what it is to be men.
“Let the male be deferred to by all means; there was another and more subtle way of reducing him. He could be mothered.” —George Dangerfield (The Strange Death of Liberal England 1910-1914)</blockqu
Dangerfield was talking about Victorian women before the Suffragette Movement. He was alluding to how women dealt with being dominated and suppressed by men in the era where they had no power or even humanity. There was only one way that women had to get back at the men who ill-treated them. Their aim was to keep men dependent on them as children.
The problem with this approach was that it played into what men desired deep down. They wanted to be mothered and were happy to collude in this because it allowed them to continue to exert their power as men.
At the end of the 19th century there was tacit agreement to this impasse from both sides, it allowed life to continue. The Suffragette Movement started the process of breaking down this situation and encouraged the growth of power in women. Today the situation is very different, even if true equality has not been achieved. More needs to be done, though, to breakdown the prejudice that still exists in society at large.
One of the major problems that still exists is that for many men the situation they accepted over a hundred years still exists for them. For many, they are still encouraged in that situation by their women. It suits them both to still accept the impasse of a man’s domination being accepted as long as the woman can control him by mothering.
Many women still feel weak and seek the strength and security of a strong man. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but it falls down when it becomes a co-dependent relationship lacking in the equality of respect for both sides. Co-dependent relationships always fail in some way.
While it is true that men and women are jointly responsible for this situation it is, in my view, the responsibility of the man to change this situation.
Why is this? Is it just me beating my breast as a man and blaming all men for what is wrong?
I see it as a man’s responsibility to change and re-draw the relationship because of why it exists in the first place.
Men are, on average, stronger than women. They are physically stronger and bigger and they have been brought up to exert power and be dominant. Men are, even today, taught to be focused, decisive, dominant and powerful in a way that women are not. Whether this situation is true or not is open to discussion, but is not the subject of this article. Given that the situation exists it is up to men to use their abilities to change it.
Change involves men doing two things; changing their approach to women and letting go of the need to be mothered. This combination will break the impasse and allow and new relationship to emerge and grow.
Letting go of the need to be mothered is where many men can start. When men start to stand on their own two feet, where their personal life is concerned, then they can see themselves and their partners in a new light. When men signal their desire for a new relationship with women by changing, then women can find more of their strength.
I know that for many people this has already happened. I see men and women who have changed their approach to the opposite sex, but majority of people have not yet moved on.
To me men and women are different and those differences are to be celebrated. The differences, however, should not be used as an excuse for either sex to attempt to dominate the other either by obvious or subtle means.
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Image Credit: Flickr/Jacob Renpening (Creative Commons)
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